By definition, a barista is someone who serves coffee; but what we understand nowadays as barista involves more than serving coffee. There are world-wide competitions bringing together some of the best in the world because we understand that it is a profession rooted in a professionalism and dedication comparable to that of Olympic athletes. Baristas study the beans, decide on how fine or coarse the grinding should be, then discern the type of brewing and its corresponding water to coffee ratio, and when you think it is all done, the serving in itself is an instagrammable show.
We can all serve coffee, but not all of us get to call ourselves Baristas.
It can be a bit complicated to define who the first barista was given for how long coffee has been enjoyed, but the first well recorded account of someone completing all the responsibilities of baristas is Mr. Pasqua Rosée. It is believed that he was born in the region we now call Croatia and came to England as a servant to an English merchant, Daniel Edwards.
There is little record about how the business was first established, but it is known that Mr. Edwards and Mr. Rosée opened a cafe initially in conjunction. Coffee was still quite new to England but their success is proof that the Brits had little resistance towards coffee. According to the site Exploring London, Pasqua Rosée would serve about 600 cups of coffee per day. In some way, the business succeeded because there was little competition at the time, but the tavern owners saw Rosée’s business as a threat. It was obvious that coffee houses were an alternative to taverns as places of socializing and relaxing, one without the occasional drunk.
But there was one large obstacle to Rosée’s business success. He was a servant. The last known thing about Rosée’s business practices is that he joined forces with the grocer Christopher Bowman in 1654 and together they opened a larger cafe. On record Bowman shows as the sole owner, but the brand was a portrait or Rosée.
Pasqua Rosée is remembered as the first barista. The first man to serve and run his own coffee shop. While that makes him a strong trailblazer, his humble society status is perhaps what’s to blame for the fact that there are little records about Rosée. Certainly nothing about his personal life or personal likings. Was he ever in love? Was he close to his family? Did he have a family? Any hobbies aside from coffee? All we know is that this man envisioned and executed the running of the first coffee shop.
There are rumors suggesting that Pasqua Rosée committed a crime and had to flee London in order to avoid a harsh punishment, but this rumor was started by a poem and there’s no written records of such crime.
What we do know is that Christopher Bowman died of tuberculosis and the coffee shop was wiped out by the Great Fire of London in 1666. A plaque is all that is left to mark the space where almost four hundred years ago, the first coffee shop was established, and its first barista embarked on the mission to share his coffee with the world.